Robot triathlete challenges human dominance on Ironman course

Robots beat us at chess and Jeopardy but human triathlete jobs are safe for now


Is there anyone who still thinks robots can't beat humans at anything humans can do?

Didn't Ol' John Henry settle this 100 years ago?

That steam engine is than even the steel-drivin'est man, John. It don't need to eat nor sleep (and it doesn't complain as much if the mining company isn't quite as strict about all those safety rules as it could be).

Didn't the IBM supercomputers that took global titles in chess and Jeopardy prove that silicon can be smarter than meat if you narrow things down to just a few functions that brains and microprocessors handle in similar ways and then race to see who can finish first?

Humans know how to mine coal and play chess and play Jeopardy (but, oddly, no one has yet figured out whether there are rules to Australian Rules Football or whether the Ozzies are just making it all up as they go.)

Humans know what it would take to perform better at those things than they can. Humans know how to build machines and how to design machines to do the specific things humans can't.

Robots don't beat humans at anything. It's not a competition.

It's a design exercise.

Engineers beat John Henry, not the steam engine. Engineers and mining-company executives who figured the steam engine would work cheaper and John Henry could retrain as a receptionist or dental technician or something after they laid him off with no benefits.

So why is a Japanese robot named Evolta running the course of this year's Ironman World Championship triathlon next month?

For the honor and glory of Panasonic, which designed it and promote the rechargeable batteries on which Evolta runs (which Panasonic estimates can be recharged 1,800 times by placing them on a recharging pad).

Evolta is not entered in the actual race. It would get squished by the other competitors, probably on purpose.

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